Category Archives: Human Ecology

Three honored by School of Social Work

Lewis with Dr. Bunch.jpg

School of Social Work Chair Dr. Sheila Bunch and Lauretta Lewis

East Carolina University’s School of Social Work honored three social work practitioners at the sixth annual Alumni and Friends Celebration at the Holiday Inn in Greenville on Nov. 13.

Lauretta Lewis was recognized with the Distinguished Faculty Legacy Award. Lewis joined the ECU Department of Social Work and Corrections in 1974. She received bachelor’s degrees in social work and psychology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Lewis was the recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health scholarship to pursue studies in mental health and geriatrics. She also pursued postgraduate studies at the Gerontology Center at the University of Michigan.

Mona Townes poses with School of Social Work Chair Dr. Sheila Bunch and her Rising Star Alumni Award.

Mona Townes and Dr. Sheila Bunch

She was named to a six-year term as a Danforth Associate by the National Danforth Foundation based on her expertise and activity in scholarship. She was appointed to the Caswell Developmental Center’s Human Rights Committee Secretary of State Sarah Morrow. She served as a regional faculty liaison for the National Association of Social Work Education and board member for the North Carolina Council on Social Work Education.

Mona Townes was recognized with the Rising Star Alumni Award. Townes serves as the mobile crisis director at Integrated Family Services. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and certified by the National Council on Behavioral Health as a facilitator for Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid.

She serves as a training instructor for the local Crisis Intervention Team and presents training on behavioral health. Townes received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from ECU.

Renee’ Pearson was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Renee’ Pearson and Dr. Sheila Bunch

Renee’ Pearson was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Pearson received bachelor’s degrees in psychology and social work and a master’s degree in social work from ECU. She is dually licensed by the state of North Carolina as a clinical social worker and clinical addiction specialist. She is the founder and owner of the Pitt County Counseling, PLLC in Greenville and has over 25 years of experience in social work.

Pearson’s clinical skills include working with issues related to perinatal health, gender, trauma, and sex offending behaviors. She provides educational instruction to social work and human service students at ECU and Edgecombe Community College. She serves as faculty advisor for the Human Services Club at ECC.

Pearson’s education and career has always focused on her passion for working with children, women, and families.

– Kathy Muse

Fenich earns national award from PCMA Education Foundation

ECU hospitality professor Dr. George Fenich receives the Educator Honoree Award at the 2015 Professional Convention Management Association awards ceremony. (Contributed phot)

ECU hospitality leadership professor Dr. George Fenich receives the Educator Honoree Award at the 2015 Professional Convention Management Association awards ceremony. (Contributed phot)

East Carolina University hospitality leadership professor Dr. George Fenich received the Educator Honoree Award at the 2015 Professional Convention Management Association awards ceremony April 8 in Washington, D.C.

The honorees have “career paths and accomplishments that both inspire and guide their peer communities,” said PCMA president and CEO Deborah Sexton. “While their past leadership has been instrumental in advancing our industry, their present and future leadership endeavors will help us ensure conventions, trade shows and conferences continue to serve as the critical adult education channel.”

Fenich has published more than 40 research articles and studies, including the Millennials study related by PCMA in 2012. He has authored/edited more than 10 textbook publications, contributed to chapters in six other textbooks, published more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, contributed more than 30 articles to conference proceedings and presented papers at more than 70 professional meetings. He served 15 years in the hospitality industry before joining higher education in 1985.

Fenich has also served, and continues to serve, on a number of industry-related committees, including the PCMA Faculty Task Force, PCMA Student Task Force, Meeting Professionals International Foundation Board, Destination Marketing Association International Faculty Task Force, and the PCMA Annual Meeting Program Committee.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from SUNY-Cortland, a master’s from Rennsalaer Polytechnic University and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

Fenich was one of three selected nationwide for this year’s award.


–Jennifer Brezina, College of Business


Social work faculty, students participate in conference

ECU was well represented at the annual National Association of Bachelor Social Work Program Directors meeting in March. (Contributed photo)

ECU was well represented at the annual National Association of Bachelor Social Work Program Directors meeting in March. (Contributed photo)

Eight East Carolina University students and two faculty members in the School of Social Work recently attended the annual National Association of Bachelor Social Work Program Directors meeting in Kansas City, Missouri.

ECU students Tracey Leonard, Trevor Blue, Andrew Bracken, Kirby Elmore, Charon Hudson, Gabrielle Karl, Tracy Meaux and Christopher Williams were selected by the national organization to serve as conference volunteers at registration, as assistant moderators and other activities. The students, all members of the Bachelors of Social Work Student Association, participated in workshops on professional development and topics such as current advocacy practice trends, political activism and GLBT issues in practice and policy.

“Being able to meet other social work students from around the country has been one of the best things about this this trip,” Leonard said.

Williams was invited to present his findings from a study of treatment needs of parents suffering from addiction issues in child welfare. The students also met with graduate school recruiters from around the country. The closing plenary emphasized the role that social work has in civil rights and liberties with featured speakers involved in the events at Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb and the site of ongoing protests after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer.

Dr. Brenda Eastman, associate professor of social work, and Dr. Kelley Reinsmith-Jones, assistant professor of social work, traveled with the students more than 2,400 round-trip miles in a van through winter weather to attend the conference, held March 3-9.

ECU student awarded for textile design



ECU senior Ashley Lamb won an Outstanding Student Award from the Surface Design Association for her piece titled “Exposed.” Her nominating instructor in textile design was Robin Lynn Haller. The award earned her a paid one-year membership to SDA.

Ashley Lamb

Ashley Lamb

Ashley is from Marshburn, VA and is double majoring in fashion merchandising and textile design. She is also the ECU Textile Guild Co-President, and a member of both Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity and the Apparel and Interior Merchandising Organization.

Last summer, Lamb worked in the sales group for Jessica Simpson’s dress line at the GIII Apparel Group, a company which designs, manufactures and markets women’s and men’s apparel for brands like Calvin Klein, Guess and Kenneth Cole. Her ultimate goal is to design and sell her own clothing line.

To learn more about the fashion merchandising program in ECU’s College of Human Ecology, visit

For a list of all award winners, visit

ECU social work student featured in New Social Worker magazine

An original poem and rap video created by East Carolina University senior Landon Digh in ECU’s social work program will be featured in The New Social Worker magazine’s 2015 Social Work Month Series.

Digh’s presentation, titled “You ARE a Social Worker,” will included on the magazine’s web site during March, which is Social Work Month. 

His related video will be placed on YouTube.

Digh’s poem follows:

You ARE a Social Worker

To put it into words is not as easy as you think,
It takes courage, drive, motivation, and will
A push for change doesn’t happen in a blink,
That’s why to be in this field you’ll need more than just skill
A thrill to heal, you’ll find you’re never really still, until,
You change one life, and then more, and more
And pretty soon it comes natural; you’re acting so casual
The look on a child’s face when you walk in gets you razzled, dazzled, unraveled
How could a simple hug from you create so much magic?
Then you stop, and you ponder-
All the times that you’ve wondered,
Am I cut out for this job? Do I really even matter?
That’s when you realize you’re a batter, striking out or hitting homers
Either way you DO matter,
Things you do make things BETTER
A hero in the making, though some may call you villain
You do it all for the greater, the prisoner, the children
You strive to find a home for a retired, homeless veteran
And then the day is through and somehow you gain composure,
But there’s so much left to do, people to help, help things further
Just look up, smile, and know
You ARE a Social Worker

Poem/Rap by Landon Digh
Social Work BSW
East Carolina University

ECU student awarded scholarship for international conference

ECU master of social work student Jennifer Roofner won the Christian Hartline Scholarship to attend the International Eating Disorder Professionals 2015 Symposium in Phoenix, Arizona.



The scholarship pays for conference registration and Roofner will be presented a $1,000 check at a banquet set for March 19.

Roofner said she was excited to represent ECU at the international conference. “My ECU education and the professors I have had…have not only inspired me beyond my personal expectations, but also they have encouraged me to follow my passions,” she said.

“They have guided me to become a self-confident woman to apply for such scholarships and be fearless in doing so.”

Roofner is pursuing a masters of social work with a concentration on eating disorders.

ECU students provide holiday meals for local children

Left to right, Shemmah Barrett, principal of Falkland Elementary; ECU student Renata Copeland; and Falkland elementary teacher Beth Ward stand with some of the food collected for the holiday season.  (Contributed photo)

Left to right, Shemmah Barrett, principal of Falkland Elementary; ECU student Renata Copeland; and Falkland elementary teacher Beth Ward stand with some of the food collected for the holiday season. (Contributed photo)

A season intended as a time of joy for children – with multiple days out of school – also means no breakfast or lunch for many children across Pitt County. Now thanks in part to a group of East Carolina University students, children at Falkland Elementary School will have meals provided throughout the holiday season.

Multiple student organizations at ECU collected food to supplement Falkland Elementary’s Backpack Pals program, which works throughout the school year to supply children with non-perishable, easy to fix foods. The food items are loaded into backpacks that are sent home each Friday afternoon. The program serves 38 children representing 20 families.

But the program was not set up to provide meals during the two-week holiday break. Falkland Elementary teacher Beth Ward recognized the need to supplement the program and set up this year’s holiday drive. “The food drive on ECU’s campus along with a similar drives held at The Heritage at Arlington and by the Greenville Chapter #2362 Women of the Moose were more than enough to see our children through the break,” Ward said.

Ward said that enough food was collected to send each student home with a box that would last through the holidays. She spoke with several parents who were beside themselves with joy.

“I’ve had parents come in crying and expressing their gratitude for the students and community members who participated in this year’s food drive,” said Ward. “Several families have said that without this drive there would have been days without food on the table during the two-week break.”

Renata Copeland, an ECU student and member of the Council on Family Relations, was overwhelmed by the need existing in her own back yard. “I wanted to get involved with Backpack Pals because no child deserves to go hungry. You cannot learn if you are hungry,” said Copeland. “I love giving back to my community and this was something that really touched me.”

In addition to food donations, Walmart of Greenville awarded Falkland Elementary a $2,000 grant to provide holiday items and instructional supplies for the Backpack Pal students.

“Without the local businesses and community members who sponsor this program year-round and special events like the one held at ECU, we wouldn’t be able to provide the children in Pitt County with adequate food throughout the year,” said Ward.

The ECU student organizations who collected food for the program include ECU Campus Kitchen, ECU Council on Family Relations, Eta Sigma Delta International Honor Society, National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, and Student Dietetic Association and the Volunteer and Service Learning Center.


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